Where have I been?…

First, I am so sorry for just disappearing.  Many of you supported me and followed me and I owe that to you.

Aside from cancer I suffer from anxiety… BAD curl up in a ball, hide from the world, ignore texts and phone calls anxiety.  I’ve had this issue since I was little and as an adult it seems more crippling than ever, especially after all that cancer “stuff”.

I plan to pick up where I left off, but there has just been SO much that has happened and I want to be able to cover everything.

When I started this blog I had hoped to be able to keep up with it and share updates about everything from daily struggles in the life of a cancer patient, cold capping, surgeries, and the main goal – overcoming it all.

But as you could imagine, it was impossible.

I was hospitalized several times over the course of my treatment because of reactions, infections, and of course my usual bad luck.  I joked often that my middle name should be side effect because that 1% of people they always say it will affect, well… You are looking at your 1%!

Back to the anxiety…. Throughout all of this it was very difficult to just feel well enough to function normally, hell, I still have my days where I can’t leave my bed because of the fatigue and depression (yes, depression – I’ll cover this often in future posts)

Most days I have one goal, to get up and shower.

I’m sure you are thinking… really? That’s ALL you can do? Yes. And you can’t even imagine how much effort that takes.

My anxiety has my mind overrun with things that I haven’t done, should be doing, and feel like I won’t ever be able to do and all of these thoughts and fears paralyze me.  It’s really crazy to me how much anxiety can affect someone and that’s honestly what has kept me away from writing for so long.

Thoughts of sounding stupid, thoughts of judgement, thoughts of not being able to live up to expectations and disappointing people.

While I am now proud to officially call myself a SURVIVOR, it’s not over yet.  These last few months have really opened me up to how big this fight really is and everything it entails.

Physical, emotional, and mental wellness are just parts of this whole thing and I plan to cover it all.

I plan to share my experience with cold capping, and the support group that I founded that really gave me the motivation to help others and keep on going.

My struggles with mental well-being and how I don’t feel that enough people give a damn about it and why it’s SO IMPORTANT.

… and of course the cancer, how can I forget that monster and everything that its taught me.

I’m glad to be back, and hope to be more consistent (it’s something I’m working on with myself).

 

xo

BeccaJean

Can-u-lasta?

This post comes after a long, HARD, 2 months of fighting and it is only now that I was able to mentally revisit what has gone on in that time…

(prepare yourselves for a LONG post)

I started this post ‘from a hospital bed. YES. A hospital bed. Here’s how I got there…

My first round of chemo was on Monday October 16th. I arrived at my treatment center on a mere 2 hours of sleep due to the steroids they give you to take the night before treatment, Dexamethasone – I will have a LONG rant about this dreaded drug in just a few paragraphs, but we’ll be here a while, get comfy!

Once I get to the infusion room, its time for pre-meds, a little of this, a little of that before the real deal. I am what they call a “TCHP” girl. For the chemo drugs,

Taxotere
Carboplatin
Herceptin
Perjeta

I am triple positive, which means that my cancer is positive for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2. So TCHP is my chemo cocktail.

I spent a long 8 hr+ day the first day of chemo. This is done to allow for the drugs to be introduced slowly and observe any kind of reaction.

Once my infusion was done, they attached a self-administering shot called Neulasta. This is used to boost white blood cells and attaches to the skin, and it administers the drug 27 hours after chemo. Once it’s done doing its thing, I can pop it right off and it saved me a trip to the doctor’s office.

HOWEVER, this would be the beginning of actual hell on Earth for me. What Neulasta does is push the white blood cells that you have in your bone marrow out even if they weren’t ready in an effort to make sure that you have plenty flowing.

When you are younger, and bones are not as porous, this makes it excruciating.
It felt as if someone was taking a hammer to every single bone in my body every waking minute, for TWO DAYS.
I couldn’t even get off my couch to walk and was in an out because the pain was actually THAT bad.
Once I would come to, I would try to eat only to feel like I had very severe heartburn. I tried Tums, Pepcid, yogurt, you name it and nothing seemed to work.

In my state of pain, weakness, and chemo brain fog, it never occurred to me that it was anything other than “normal” side effects of chemo. You know, the dreaded heartburn, diarrhea, body aches, I mean my body was pumped full of over 16 drugs in a short amount of time I just figured that chemo was really just a nightmare, but then I questioned myself, how can so many people still work and manage normal lives and I am completely debilitated?

Well turns out, I had thrush. Not just mouth sores (something also very typical from chemo) but SEVERE thrush. I mean, it looked like a swallowed a giant white rabbit because of how bad it got and felt like my tongue, roof of my mouth, and throat were set on fire and nothing and I mean NOTHING would bring relief.

I was unable to swallow food of any kind and even water hurt to drink.

In all of the research I had done, or at least thought I did, never had I even heard of thrush, and it was only after not being able to eat for 4 days and losing over 11 pounds in 3 days did I realize that it wasn’t heartburn.

By the time that I had realized this is what I had, thanks to the wonderful ladies in one of my cancer support groups (which I totally recommend being apart of for reasons like this), I had to contact an on-call doctor to fill a prescription that really offered no help and wait until Monday to speak with my oncologist.

Monday finally comes, a FULL WEEK after my chemo and I had yet to have a full meal the entire week, or be able to sleep because I was in so much pain and delirious from the side effects. There were even times that I didn’t want to let my eyes close even for a second because I kept thinking, this is it, I’m not going to wake up if I let myself sleep. – It was pure torture.

My oncologist has me go in immediately, and I could barely walk myself in the door because I was so weak.
I’ll never forget the look on her face, she looked, scared. It’s never a good sign when your doctor looks scared.
She immediately ordered IV fluids, and I finally began to gain a little color. I had looked like Edward Scissorhands, hair and all.
After the fluids I was eager to go home, I still couldn’t bare to eat or really felt that much better but I just wanted to be in the comfort of my own home, and just promised that I would come back tomorrow for more fluids.

The next day I returned for fluids, still not feeling much better, and felt like I would be ok until I was given yet another drug for nausea. Once that was given to me, it was game over. I felt dizzy and not right. My eyes glazed over and it was then that my doctor said, I’m sorry but I think we need to get you over to the hospital.

So let’s go back to that Dexamethasone drug. Dexamethasone is a steroid that is supposed to aid in handling chemotherapy treatments, and what I mean by that is make your body a little tougher against handling it all.
My original oncologist gave me instructions for this medication to take 2 the day before chemo, 1 the day of, and 2 the day after. I took them exactly as prescribed because your doctor knows best right? Wrong.
This drug is known for causing insomnia, which is why in addition to my anxiousness I was unable to sleep or rest right the days around chemo treatment AND it has also been known to cause things like thrush, especially with that amount.

There were several times that week that I hate to admit I let myself say “dying would’ve been easier”. But, thankfully my support team wouldn’t allow me to give up, even when I felt like it so many times.

I knew that cancer wouldn’t be a cakewalk, but I really had no idea how awful it could be.

I lost my sense of taste (you guessed it, another wonderful side-effect of chemo!) to the point that I basically live off of saltines and water because they are the only things that don’t taste disgusting to me. This alone makes me cry at least once a day, because living in Austin has made me especially food spoiled.

I’m especially sensitive to smells now. I can smell EVERYTHING. Even my dogs breath gets to me which is difficult because I’m obsessed with cuddling with them and you can find them within arms distance of me any time that I’m home.

It took me months to write this post for several reasons. One, is that chemo brain is a very real thing. There were times that I couldn’t even make sense of words that were in front of me, or things that were being said to me. You feel like you are underwater and everything is moving in slow motion.
Two, is that I couldn’t emotionally collect myself to revisit this period.

I felt so defeated. How is that my very FIRST chemo, I nearly, well, die?

It was and still feels so discouraging.

I started this blog post from a hospital bed in October and it is now December and I am barely bringing myself to finish it. Believe me, I tried.

I would open my laptop to start working only to close it because I have been through so much since I started this blog post and there is still so much to say.

One of the women in one of the support groups I’m in wrote to me to check on me when she saw how much I was struggling, at the end of her message she told me to be strong and said, “cancer isn’t for sissies”, she couldn’t be more right.

It’s not.

This is easily the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life and hope to never EVER have to do again once it’s all over.

This reflection is just a small summary of things that occurred on my first chemo, I have since had 2 more chemo treatments, which were almost just as eventful.

As much as I wanted to quit this blog after dealing with so much, I decided that purpose is what keeps people alive, not circumstances, and I have a purpose to share this experience as horrible as it may be, because it is a testament to how having faith can change everything, and I believe that. – and that even after all of this, it IS possible to keep on going.

The Big D.

Decisions.

Cancer is the bossiest disease ever.

The week of my diagnosis, I was excited to finally begin my final year in college.  It has been a long time coming, and I was already anxiously planning a big grad party and thinking of a destination to celebrate with family and friends… and then BAM.  Life said, nope. I call the shots!

What was almost eerie about this diagnosis is that I knew something was wrong about a week or so before I really knew something was wrong.

I had just put in my two weeks notice at my job because I was really feeling what I thought was just an ultimate burnout.  I decided that I would take a moment to reset in life and focus 100% on school and finally get myself into doctors appointments for various screens and physicals to get me back to myself as I had felt exhausted for months.

The week that I put my notice in, I finally got myself into my OBGYN to check out the lump that I had discovered months ago, but finally slowed down enough to give it attention.
That was my first mistake.
I was too busy for my health and had only decided it was time to take care of myself only  because I was finally getting too tired to function, and that’s not okay.
I hate to think what would have happened if there wasn’t a lump to discover, which is sometimes the case with breast cancer.  I was “lucky”, and had a lump that scared me enough to go in, even if I DID wait too long to go in. – Please don’t wait, go in the SECOND you find something that’s off.

The day of my appointment, I cried on my way to work.  I kept thinking, what will I do if I have cancer?  How will my life change? What will happen to me?
My mind went C R A Z Y with “what ifs”.
Once I finally got to my appointment, the doctor comes in, asks me to lean over and asks if she can “guess” what side its on without me telling her.  I said sure, and she called it right away.  Not because she was that good, but because it was that big.  Again, I can’t stress how much I regret waiting on this.
She then does the standard breast exam and feels around, but, and this is a HUGE but, proceeds to tell me that it’s a cyst and that I’m fine and that it isn’t what I thought.
Now, keep in mind, this was my very first appointment, there were no labs, ultrasounds, mammograms, anything, and she still felt confident enough to make this call – and reassured this to me even though I told her that almost every type of cancer has touched my family in some way and even lost two to breast cancer.  I felt somewhat relieved, but still not convinced.  Luckily, she still referred me for a mammogram.

The week of my mammogram which was only a few days later I was feeling anxious all around, not only was my husband out of town for work, but I still couldn’t shake that “it’s nothing” call.
I go in for my mammogram, alone.  If I could go back and change this too, I would’ve.
When it comes to getting any kind of big news, whether it’s good or bad, I’d recommend having someone with you.
The mammogram was a lot more involved than I expected, a lot of jabbing, squishing, and pulling.  Not going to lie to you, it kinda hurt.
After all of the images were taken, I was put in a little waiting room.  I kept seeing other women getting placed into the rooms next to me, and then getting told that they could get dressed and go to the front, so I kept waiting for the same.  After others came and left, I still sat there waiting, wondering if they had forgotten about me.
The nurse comes in and says, the radiologist would like to speak with you.  I thought, well that can’t be good.
He walks me into a room with several screens and images of a big black spot and what looks like large white freckles in the the middle of that black spot.
I couldn’t stop staring at that large black spot not knowing at all what it meant (as this was my first mammogram) but couldn’t even pay attention to what he was saying.
Next, he says, “do you have anyone in the waiting room you can bring back with you?” I thought, why?
I said no, my husband was out of town and the rest of my family lives back home.
He says that he would like to talk to me about what all he was explaining in the images.
We walk into the room, he asks me to get comfortable, and the nice lady assistant slides me over a box of tissues.  It was at that very moment I knew my life was about to change.
He says, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I believe that you have breast cancer”.  A single tear rolled down my face.
No, I thought.  The other doctor said it was a cyst, you must be mistaken.
He said that in order to really be sure, they would still recommend a biopsy, but I won’t ever be able to unsee that look in his eyes, he knew.  Everyone knew.  It was almost as though they wanted to exhaust every test to just be “sure”, and it would be that persons job to deliver the confirming blow.

I left that appointment holding back the rest of my tears until I could make it back to my car, not because I was shook up about the news which was surprising, but because I had known something was going on with me, and this just confirmed it.

I returned to work and it continued to consume my mind.  While I had already put in my notice to kind of recharge myself, I was in no way prepared for this.  I had no idea what would come next, biopsies?  Treatments? Oncologists?
I was in way over my head.
Here I thought that I was just going to take some time off, be better about taking vitamins, get some much needed rest, and I’d be back to myself again.  This was not the case.

After this news, I called my mom and she was on the first flight to Austin.  It was really awful to get this news and be alone, but I couldn’t even think about handling the rest on my own.  As it was, there’s an almost haze that came over me when I heard those words and everything after just sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown.

Now here come the decisions…
Do I drop out of school?… In my FINAL year.
Do I look for another job?… Even though I’ll have to miss for treatments.
Can we afford this?… Do I sell my car?… Would we need to move back home for care?
Do I tell my family? … My Friends?…. Everyone?
Do I get a second opinion?

Those were just the initial thoughts.  I would soon discover how many more major decisions I would need to make.

My first appointments came with my breast surgeon and oncologist and the next big decisions were here.  The good thing is that one of them I was solid about without question, and that was on getting a bilateral mastectomy.
Two beautiful women in my family lost their battles with breast cancer and I thought, I’ll be damned if I’m the third.  I have a lot of life left to live.
My tumor as it started was at 3cm, so I was past the point of getting a lumpectomy but still had the option to just get a unilateral mastectomy.  I decided that I never wanted to go through this whole “process” again and would just do both to hopefully avoid this later down the line.  My surgeon agreed, especially with my strong family history that it was probably for the best.  Next came another big decision, kids.

I would say that for at least the last 2 years of my life I was pretty confident in the choice of not having kids, even after the first year of my marriage was questionable because my husband still wanted them.  Now, I’m sure that most couples have this discussion before sealing the deal, but it hadn’t really ever come up, until it did, and then it was almost an argument.  My feelings were that I might be open to having kids if I did all of the traveling that I wanted to and was in the career that I wanted.  We’d go back and forth on this for a while, until we finally settled on not having kids as a joint decision after seeing one too many shrieking kids in public, and just got another dog.
I knew I didn’t want to have kids, but cancer made me sure.  Right away the doctors informed me that because of the chemo regimen that I would be on, it would be almost impossible to have kids and if it was something I even had the slightest desire to do, I would need to see a fertility doctor ASAP.
After riding what felt like the longest roller coaster of my life for the last two weeks I was not about to put myself through much more, and it was in that doctors office that I said, “I’m sure, I don’t want kids”.
It’s too early to tell if I’ll ever regret this decision, but again, bossy cancer made me decide something way before I felt it was time.
It has a way of doing that for a lot of things.

If decisions aren’t your thing, which for me they definitely are not (I don’t even like picking a restaurant!), cancer will make you make those decisions.  Cancer does not care if you are “ready”.
Cancer does not care if you are financially stable, if you are at the finish line of a major goal, if you are in a “safe place” in your life, or if you are enjoying life.
Cancer invites itself into your life and the lives of those you love and overstays it’s welcome the second that it arrives.

I am 29 years old and never in my life did I think I would hear those three big words, much less right now, but I did.
The decisions I make in my life going forward will forever change the path that it takes.
While I can be mildly jealous that some people have more options and time in making some of the decisions that I had to make in under a week, I have to be strong in knowing that for whatever reason it is, it was meant to be this way.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and even though it doesn’t quite make sense right now, it will in time.

 

Can’t stop, won’t stop

I just got back from spending a wonderful weekend in my hometown of El Paso to see family and friends.  This trip had originally already been planned since the summer, before learning of my diagnosis for my Grantie’s 80th birthday party and I would stop at nothing to make it.
Well, the monday before the trip came and what do you know, I got sick as a DOG.  This would also be the same week as my infamous “fork day” breakdown (see previous post).  It seemed as everything was working against me, which is usually the kind of thing that happens to me.  Fever, chills, lost my voice,  port pain, but nothing and I mean NOTHING was going to stop me from giving my Grantie a great big birthday hug so I sucked it up, and got to packing only 30 minutes before I had to be at the airport – this is a feat in and of itself as I am known for bringing an obscene amount of luggage for just a weekend trip.

On the flight it felt like my head was going to explode, I had major congestion and every cough made it feel like I was going to undo my port stitches, I was miserable, but all I could think about was seeing my family.  Without getting too morbid sometimes you can’t help but wonder if it might be the “last time” that you see someone, so I was all too eager to get all of my quality time in.  Let’s not sugar coat it, anything really can happen in this process and part of being able to handle everything is to really plan and prepare for anything as best as you can.
Anywho…

Remember I said I was stubborn?  I wasn’t joking.  When I originally had the first sign of a cough, my husband insisted that I go to the doctor, and I just kept saying, who?  He doesn’t ever think that’s funny, but it’s how I get away with things around here (I’ll use it while I can!).  Well, I absolutely regretted not listening to going to a clinic to at least get an antibiotic because I really got my ass kicked during that trip.

During those 3 short days I attended a birthday dinner, got a haircut, got in some “day drinking” with my best friend at our favorite college hangout, hiked a mountain, AND attended a really special “breast cancer party” that my family threw me that felt like a much needed pep rally.  Now typically a healthy me could swing this and then some, but  respiratory-infected me was really struggling on the inside.
The reason I want to bring all of that up is because I didn’t let myself “be sick”.  Trust me, this was NO cake walk, but I forced myself.  I put on makeup everyday, got dressed, and put a big smile on EVERY day that I was home.  Not only because I didn’t want to worry my family but because you know that cheesy saying “fake it till you make it”?  It works.
I was struggling every day that I was home to put on face and be “ok”, but at the end of it all, I told myself, if this all doesn’t work out would I have rather sat in bed crying all day or spent my days with family and friends enjoying myself with margaritas?  I chose the latter.

Since diagnosis I have…
Participated in Paddle for Puppies, a 5 mile kayaking voyage for charity to raise funds for puppies that get parvo, just a week after my biopsy with an injured left boob.  Strut Your Mutt, a wonderful dog walk that raises funds and awareness for homeless pets, the day after my microblading appointment.  Race for the Cure, I’m sure we have all heard of this one, two days after my port surgery.  Hiked Mount Cristo Rey, a beautiful 4 mile mountain trail in Sunland Park, New Mexico that adorns a beautiful nine foot limestone statue of christ, mid-respiratory infection.  It was my first time making that trek and was a truly was a rewarding and overwhelming experience, and stayed up sipping margaritas till 3 AM hanging out with family that I haven’t seen in over 20 years.

Staying so busy has been the only thing that has kept me going.  I initially started with making a list of everything I needed to buy for chemo treatments, I say that almost jokingly because I think I went a little overboard as I do with many things, but I felt I better be as prepared as possible (I’ll be sharing what things I actually felt were helpful during treatments in a later post). But no matter what the task was, shopping, cleaning, outfit planning, researching, doctors visits, whatever.  I didn’t let myself stop, but that one day that I needed to let it out.  It’s important to let it out, but give yourself that one day, and after that, you pick yourself up and tell yourself that was your rock bottom and everything else is up from there.  I promise, if you tell yourself that, that’s exactly what the universe will give you.  The mind is an incredibly powerful thing and I am convinced that the only way that I will actually beat this thing is to believe that I will be ok, and that by this time next year I will be celebrating a holiday season cancer free without chemo.

The point is, stay BUSY.  Busy means distraction.  Busy means OK.
Sure, if you are tired that day by all means rest, your feet, but not your mind.  Keep thinking of the next thing to keep you busy and the next thing to look forward to.

Be strong, stay busy, believe you can.

 

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A photo of my Grantie at her birthday dinner, this smile made it ALL worth it!

DX day.

I’d like to start this blog off by being brutally honest.

I am 29.  I am no gym junkie or vegan health food goddess.  I live for tacos and tequila, and I’m incredibly stubborn.

Even though you won’t find me in a gym 7 days a week or counting calories, I consider myself relatively healthy.  I stay too busy to bum on a couch every night, but I do enjoy my Bravo shows and after a long day, I will often opt for a night of Real Housewives (insert franchise) over an hour at the gym.  Zero shame.

You also won’t catch me a doctors office unless something is about to fall off or the cold that I’ve put up with for a week will interfere with fun travel or event plans.

Now with that being said, that doesn’t mean that I’ve never trusted doctors, but I got really sick of them blaming everything on my ALLERGIES.  Everything from my anxiety to heartburn was always looped back to allergies, so I stopped going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary.

Regardless of these details.  On August 30, 2017 I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

When I heard the words it really didn’t sink in… well, quite yet.  More than anything, there was a certain level of relief because I had spent the week and a half prior getting the “yeah, looks like cancer, but we cannot say for sure”.

How does a healthy 29 year old get diagnosed with cancer??  I immediately started regretting all of the nights I spent live tweeting my Bravo shows over the gym, or indulging in happy hour queso.

Did I not eat well enough?  Was I not active enough?  Did this happen to me because I felt so strongly about not wanting kids, and this was my punishment?  I won’t ever know.

But I know this.  I’ve learned too many lessons in life to not make this another important one.  I vowed (after I sobbed off and on for a few days) that I would use this “experience” to help others.

Hearing that you have cancer is scary enough, but what is also scary is how little you can find out about the things that make all of this a little easier.  Well for me it was anyway.

So many of groups I found myself in, or articles, etc. almost made me feel guilty for wanting to do things like save my hair.  I kept hearing the GOD AWFUL “it’ll grow back”… NO SHIT.  I know that.  But I haven’t spent 29 years of my life learning the perfect hair curl to have to wait another 5+ years to get it this length again.

I will be trying cold caps, I will continue to get my nails done, attempt to keep eyelash appointments, and anything else that kept me happy before this monster decided to dictate so much of my life, and I will blog about it in hopes that it can help someone else having to go through the hell that is chemo, too.  There is NOTHING wrong with staying true to who you are, or doing the things that you love just because you got the cancer DX.  Don’t let ANYONE make you feel like you are being selfish or shallow.

This sh*t is no “journey” (journeys are FUN) this is a battle, an annoying research project,  a burden, a nightmare, a hassle, a horrible life disrupting disease and I am not taking any of it without a fight.

What the fork?

What the fork?

“The port will be your best friend” I heard that line more times than I could count leading up to my port surgery last Friday.
Yeah? Well, none of my best friends have ever stabbed me in the neck with a fork.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I have had since diagnosis.  I cried so hard that at times I couldn’t breathe, and it was because of that damn port.  It felt like I had a fork lodged in my neck and all I could think about was, how am I going to live like this for the next few months?  I couldn’t.  No one happened to mention how uncomfortable it is to have a port, much less how anxious it can make you feel.

Sure,  I’ll be grateful that I have it as opposed to getting poked every chemo cycle for 8 hour treatments, but no one ever explained in detail what its really like post-surgery.  Well, thats what I’m here for…

Friday morning, I arrive at my surgery center.  I am ALL nerves.  Immediately after checkin I am taken into a room, given a gown, and told to get “ready”.  I disrobe, put on the gown, the uncomfortable yellow non-slip hospital socks and await what I had been dreading since the day I was told that I had to have chemo.  Now, this will not be the first time I say this but I am terrified of needles, and I don’t care what anyone says, they are NOT the same as tattoos, which I happen to have a decent amount of.  Two women walk through the door, do the standard checks (name, DOB, etc.) and it’s on to IV time.  The younger of the two asks if its “ok” that she administer my IV… Umm, well isn’t that why you are here? I thought.  Well, turns out she was a nursing student which is why she asked, my heart dropped.  I FAINT, I snapped right when she asked.  She promised that she would find the vein first and confirm with the supervising nurse before she put the needle in, well guess what, she STILL missed.  My luck.
After that debacle I patiently waited for them to wheel me off to surgery all the while taking Snapchat selfies to lighten the mood.  The doctor comes in, asks me if I know why I’m there, of course, the hospital has the best brunch spot in Austin, and then proceeds to tell me that they will be using anesthesia but I won’t be fully under.
WHAT!?!?!?
You just told me that you will be making an incision in my jugular and making a pocket in my chest for that stupid port and I’m going to be awake for it all!!??
Yes.  This is all true.  But it’s almost as if they know not to tell you all of this until you are IV’d up and underwear-less so that you can’t run out and change your mind. Trust me, I thought about it.
Well, it was go time.
I get wheeled into the operating room, they cover my face with a curtain and then its off to la la land.
The doc was right at least, even though I freaked out about not being put under all-the-way, I really didn’t remember a thing.  Once I was back and still incredibly sleepy I needed to do an echocardiogram.  Now this wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that I had a REALLY bitchy nurse who kept scolding me for wiggling away in pain, I mean its not like I didn’t just have a foreign object placed in my artery or anything.  Once the evil wench left, I was free to change and go.  The whole process took about 7 hours including time for rest and monitoring.

Right after surgery, we picked up packets for Race for the Cure for our team as it was that Sunday.  Right when we entered the mall, the smells from the food court made me nauseous.  I ran to the restroom just in time to throw up, and all I could think about was the lady in the stall next to me. On one hand I felt relieved because in case I fell she could get help, or maybe she was just judging me thinking that I had one too many at the Cheesecake Factory, either way, I collected myself just enough to hang on to my husband while we grabbed the packets and left.
Please don’t do what I did.  Go home and REST.  I had no business going anywhere but home and fell asleep in the Chipotle he got me on the way.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

The next two days were somewhat a blur.  We had planned to attend Race for the Cure a few weeks before I knew my port surgery date and I was convinced that I could do it just fine, which was why I wouldn’t back down surgery or no surgery.  My husband had ordered us team shirts and I needed to be around people.  The night before the race I had hardly slept, I was too concerned with getting my dogs all suited up for the next days event.  After the race everyone came over to our house to cookout and relax, this meant that my amazing Margaritaville machine came out of hiding.  Four margaritas later I was feeling brave enough to take my dressing off and face those soon to be scars.  They weren’t that bad.  But once the weekend haze finally wore off and I didn’t have anyone to distract me anymore, reality set in.
My port was IN.
I could barely move my neck in either direction and it felt like something was stuck in my throat.  The tears just kept coming.  How would I ever feel normal again?? No one in any of the “groups” had mentioned anything about how it felt after.  Was it just me?  Did everyone feel great after their port surgery and I was just being a crybaby?  No.

The thing is so many of the people that you will come across in all of these support groups have already gone through it and its on to the next more painful/stressful thing so these kinds of things are forgotten or not as bad as what is to come.  I wish I had really known what it felt like because maybe yesterdays freak out wouldn’t have been so bad because I would’ve known what to expect.

To wrap up.  Yes, you will hear great things about your port and how glad you should be to have it for treatment but don’t think that it is all rainbows and sunshine.  Things can be tough and it’s better to know about it so that you aren’t there thinking that your port is going to make your life a living hell.  Today I am feeling much better about it, maybe it was all the tears and just needing to let it all out, maybe my muscles are finally adjusting, whatever it is just breathe.  I promised honesty and that’s what you will get.  It helps to also know the scary parts of all this so that you can know, it’s normal.  Good luck!

 

Tips:
– Wear front closure bra, button front shirt, and slip-on shoes to surgery (leave jewelry at home)
– Reclined/elevated sleeping alleviates post-surgery discomfort
REST